Chang An was very happy to have a new place of his own. Even though he wasn’t picky about food and clothing, he was fed up with the cold and damp cave, where he’d feel like mushrooms would sprout out of his bones from living there for a long time.
However, he hadn’t enjoyed the freshness for a few days when he got sick and tired of it—That damned1作死 – a closer translation would be “one who courts death” mermaid “AAAH” was always howling at his door!
When the sea thawed, the beastmen wanted to put “AAAH” back into it so that he wouldn’t have to wait for death in the tribe.
Although he could understand human language, he was born with a problem in his throat. It was hard for him to speak even if he could understand.
They tried to bring “AAAH” to the sea many times now, but this mermaid seemed to have been enjoying himself and had no intentions of returning there.
The bad-tempered Ka Zuo and the Lu Quan who did nothing but talk once worked together to throw “AAAH” into the sea. Once in the water, the lower half of the mermaid’s body would become a fishtail with shiny scales. Paired with a little white face with red lips and white teeth, he was really quite something to look at.
It’s just that this beautiful mermaid acted like a mangy dog with a salivating face. When Ka Zuo and the others sailed back, the mermaid used his webbed hands to stick onto the stern of the ship and follow them all the way back, nodding his head and wagging his tail2摇头摆尾 – to feel triumphant.
Mermaids had always lived deep under the sea. When they jump out of the water, a rainbow would appear on their tails, and every spring, many mermaids would come up on skerries. They were the exact opposites of birdmen. Be it man or woman, both were very good-looking. With tall nose bridges, deep-set eyes, and snow-white skin, they were like the witches3妖 – The term used here is actually “yao,” which is most often translated as “demon.” of the deep sea.
At this time, they’d sleep very little and hardly needed to close their eyes at night. They’d seek for a mate on moonlit skerries, and at the break of dawn, they’d sing a poignant song for their beloved.
It had been said that the mermaid’s song in spring could easily arouse people’s yearning for love, and it was so beautiful, one could lose himself in it.
Chang An didn’t know what “poignant” was. To his ears, it was not much different from the mourning song the mermaid cried and hummed when they ran to the top of the mountain after the earthquake in the sea—It was all incomprehensible.
After three days of plugging his ears with straw, Chang An finally had enough. Holding the wooden sword he used in training his apprentice, he kicked the door open early in the morning, came out murderously, and beat “AAAH” away.
“AAAH” left in a panic, running three or four zhang away. Feeling aggrieved, he sat on his butt on the ground and burst into loud sobs. One may well say he was heartbroken.
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Chang An was afraid he’d disturb other people, so he helplessly gave him a kick, trying to make him shut up. But the mermaid “AAAH” only became more outrageous, shamelessly rolling on the floor.
This scene was seen by A’Fen’s baby son, little Jila, who was less than two years old. He was awed5惊为天人 – Literally, “to take someone as a god.” To be so astonished at someone, you’d think only gods should be able to do what they were doing. Baby Jila is so cute uwu, and he immediately learned it. When he went home, he used the same trick on his A’ma, making A’Fen angry when she fell on her back.
When Ka Zuo saw this, he secretly asked Suo Laimu, “Can’t this silly mermaid smell that Chang An-xiongdi has been marked by the Chief?”
The all-knowing Suo Laimu replied enigmatically, “All mermaids are like that. It’s their habit. If you don’t understand, try beating him up some other day. Beat him up to tears, and you’ll understand what’s going on.”
Ka Zuo was curious, and one day, he actually went to bully “AAAH” in the dead of the night. Ka Zuo started with a general provocation, passing by and flat out flicking the back of the mermaid’s head for no reason. “AAAH” didn’t take it lying down, and he immediately rushed at him with his teeth and claws. Ka Zuo saw him taking the bait, and it was exactly what he wanted. And so he gleefully fought with him, beating “AAAH” to tears, as Suo Laimu had said.
After the fight, Ka Zuo went home in a swagger. He didn’t want to get into trouble.
But from the next day onwards, “AAAH” left Chang An alone and went to sing love songs under his window instead. Because of this, Ka Zuo nearly got his face scratched by A’Ye and was locked outside of the house that night.
Through the story of Ka Zuo being pitted6tricked/deceived by Suo Laimu, the people of the beastman tribe soon realized that this mermaid was naturally cheap. It turned out you couldn’t fight with him, for he would show his endless7不依不饶 – a closer translation would be “unforgiving” or “one who is reluctant to let go.” This idiom is used to describe someone who will endlessly entangle with you because of an unfulfilled request or a past grievance. love to whoever beat him.
This move was truly unparalleled, and none under the heavens could ever equal it. Soon, the mermaid “AAAH” became the number one person in the tribe that couldn’t be provoked. Everyone learned to be polite to him. Even Chang An also began to go around him.
In order to allow the animals in the forest to rest and recuperate, Hua Yi negotiated with the few remaining Elders and banned hunting for half a year, only gathering some young hares and piglets to carry back and raise. After the ban on hunting was over, people were also told to hunt several times every day.
The beastman warriors were sick of having nothing to do, so aside from sparring with each other every day, they also worked harder at the city gate tower. Soon, the tall city gates and gate towers took shape, and the carpenters and masons became even busier.
With a rabbit leg in his mouth, Luda came over to Chang An with Hua Yi in tow, only to find his magical teacher sawing wood for a sub-beast. Luda gnawed the rabbit leg clean in two or three bites, wiped the handful of oil on the sides of his mouth, and before he could even swallow all the meat, strode over to pick up a piece of wood that Chang An had sawn.
… And left five, oily fingerprints on it.
Chang An’s gestures with the saw were rusty, yet his craftsmanship was good. Although he did it a little slower, every push and pull was serious, and the wood was sawed smoothly.
Hua Yi frowned as he looked at him for a while from the side, and he couldn’t help but ask, “You can also do this?”
“A little.” Chang An nodded. The weather was slowly getting warm, and the wild sprouts of wheat in the fields also gradually gathered ears under people’s deliberate care. Chang An had long couldn’t wait to change out of the three inner layers and three outer layers of animal skin. And after changing, he only had a small vest left on his upper body that was pinned with leftover bones. With his two arms exposed, his figure was already quite slender, but now he looked even more so with his thin waist and long legs.
But the carpenter sub-beast didn’t dare treat this thin-waisted and long-legged “same kind” as the same as him, and he was already very frightened8诚惶诚恐 – Can also mean “with profound respect and humility”. When he saw the Chief coming, the more he dared not say anything. He quickly put down his work and bowed his head.
Chang An, however, was unaware of this, and he spoke without delaying the movements of his hands. Luda had to reach out and help him with the next wood to saw. In front of the Chief and the outsider, he didn’t say anything, but in his heart, he completely disapproved of this.
In the mind of Luda, who had already grown into a young man, only being a warrior with sword and spear was what a man should do. Carpentry and the like were always the work of inferiors, not something that someone like Chang An, who was born destined for greatness, should dip his hands in.
Chang An was his teacher, and young beastmen were born to revere powerful people.
As long as one didn’t annoy him and make too much noise into his ears, Chang An was always easy to talk to, even mild-tempered. He always treated Luda well, never forgetting the little slave while they were on the run. Hence, in Luda’s reverence of him, there was also a bit of attachment.
To Luda, Chang An was like a father and an older brother, but also not at all like a father and an older brother—Nothing could compare to him in the young man’s heart. Even if Luda were to one day grow into a rebellious young man with a “heaven came first, and I second” mentality, he would still think that Chang An was the most powerful and capable.
Luda believed that carpentry had simply stained those hands of Chang An that hold a blade. He didn’t dare question what Chang An was doing, so he glared at the carpenter, plainly frightening that good-natured sub-beast man to a shudder.
Hua Yi saw it but ignored it. He also felt it to be inappropriate. He thought of how he was always treating this man like a treasure, yet this man always managed to roll himself into shit. Restraining his displeasure, he held down Chang An’s head, nodded at the trembling sub-beast, then dragged Chang An far away.
Hua Yi first removed the sawdust from Chang An’s fingers, then hit him on the back of his hand before berating him softly, “You’re so idle, you don’t know what to do, do you? You don’t need to saw wood with others. It’s inappropriate for a good daye9大爷 – can mean grandfather, but here, it’s referring to men with higher, social status. like you. You’ve got a good eye for odd jobs, but what about your future?”
When he scolded him, Chang An let him, and he listened on without uttering a word.
When Hua Yi chattered for half a day, talking so much that his mouth went dry, only then did he realize that he was playing a one-man show. Dead pigs weren’t afraid of boiling water10死猪不怕开水烫 一般 – metaphor for being indifferent, and Chang An didn’t react at all.
Hua Yi looked back at him and met his openly distracted gaze that had wandered hundreds of miles away. At once, he felt all the strength in his body, from the hairs to the toes, being drained out of him. He reached out his hand and covered almost the entirety of Chang An’s head in his palm, then pressed it down hard while gnashing his teeth. “You’re not listening. Others are talking, but you’re not listening. Ugh, forget it. Come to my place; I’ll give you something to do.”
Hua Yi brought Chang An to his new tent, and Luda followed along like a little tail.
There was a courtyard outside Hua Yi’s tent, where Suo Laimu was with some strange men, who were spreading weapons wrapped in dirty animal skins all over the floor. There were long sabers, short sabers, double-edged swords, scimitars, spears, little daggers, and many other things.
The leader of the strange men looked quite worn from the journey. His face was an inverted triangle full of grooves, and his eyes were small, his features looking somewhat wretched. When he talked, it was with obvious flattery, but his eyes were surprisingly bright.
A travelling merchant was a profession as old as a mercenary. These people had no families or jobs, and many of them even stay unmarried for life as they travel around the world, selling just about anything.
Like the mercenaries, the really old merchants were extremely cunning. They had so many connections beyond what anybody could imagine that people dared not underestimate them, even though their status was low. Less than a few months after the earth thawed, these troublesome merchants had already seized for business opportunities again and began to be active on the continent.
Chang An’s eyes lit up as soon as he saw what was on the ground.
The old merchant was observant, and he didn’t look down on him just because he was a sub-beast. He said eagerly, “Oh? Can xiaoge11xiao from little, and ge from older brother also see that my stuff is good? Aiya, the first year or two have been rough. The Southern seabed really squeezed out a tall mountain, and countless people died. How else could these things be sold so cheaply??”
Chang An bent down, picked up a scimitar, and carefully stroked its edge. He nodded. “It’s good.”
The old merchant smiled broadly. “Xiaoge knows his stuff! If this year’s first business is successful, I won’t be stingy. I promise to bring you guys some good ‘stuff.’”